Category Archives: about me

it’s totally true…

A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook this morning, and I shared it there, but I thought I would share it here as well.

The video itself is very well done, and while I was watching it, I found myself nodding along because I used to have conversations like this with my students every semester when I was in a traditional classroom setting.  Now that I am teaching online, I find it’s harder to get these types of messages across, although it is still my goal.But, beyond the reminder of past teaching moments, I found myself nodding along because I think this is something I have seen come to fruition during my short career.

When I was in high school, I desperately wanted to go to design school.  I was fortunate to go to a school that had a pilot computer graphics program, which was a big deal almost 20 years ago (how was that actually almost 20 years ago!).  I learned the fundamentals of Photoshop and Illustrator, and I wish I had taken the opportunity I had to learn Flash back then. I also worked on the layout of the school’s literary magazine, and I loved it. I got to work closely with our teacher, and she taught me a ton about how to manipulate text in Illustrator.  I am actually pretty amazed at the number of students I know from those classes that are working in these fields now.

But, I was the oldest of four children, and a private design school out-of-state was not feasible, particularly when my mother had examples all around us of kids that had gone to the big fancy art colleges and were now working at local craft stores.  So, the local university was the place for me, and I got a great education there for a reasonable price.  While I was there, I studied art history as much as I could, but I majored in English.

From there, I married my lobster and completed my masters in teaching composition. And, I have always told people that while I, of course, enjoy reading and critiquing great literature, my passion in English is really related to the writing and the tools we use to write, namely computers.  For years, I taught entry level courses (basic composition, intro to lit courses, and rudimentary technical writing), but while I was living in Kansas, I had the awesome opportunity to start teaching technical writing to Engineering students.  And, I loved it! I could totally relate to how those students were going to be using writing in their everyday lives, and I loved watching them think.

It is important here to note that the reason I taught was never to make any money because anyone teaching at the college level can tell you that there isn’t much money to be had teaching as an adjunct faculty member. And, without a PhD, there isn’t much to be made as a full time faculty member either.  But, I just kept moving and tried not to let the money part bother me.  I took all the “resuming building” opportunities I could, and I worked my ass off, but I really did love working with my students.  And, the technical writing aspect of my job allowed me to learn more about design from a practical stance.

After I had the little man, my model had to change because I didn’t have the time to dedicate to my students in the way I had before.  It wasn’t going to work to grade almost 720 assignments (or over 2500 pages) a semester, so I was fortunate enough to get my foot in the door, through the help of a close family member, editing lesson plans for a national STEM program for 5th grade students.  That work has turned into curriculum development, document design, and writing: all of my favorite things. And, I no longer feel like my husband supports my teaching habit. I work from home, and even though he is in daycare, I am able to be here if the little man needs me for something.

Watching the video above was a nice reminder that sticking with what you love despite whether there is any money in it can sometimes eventually lead you right to where you wanted to be in the first place.  And, along the way, I learned things that enrich the work I am doing now that I never would have experienced if I hadn’t just surrender to the process.

{30-in-30} gift giving

Today’s prompt from Shimelle’s class was all about our favorite gift. Today, in the document she sends everyday during this course, she outlined the way gifting changes as you grow older. The wild excitement of gift giving when you are a little kid, and how that can morph into more careful planning both in the giving and receiving that happens as you get older.

She asked us to share our “shiniest” gift receiving moment. For me, I have quite a few gift receiving moments that stand out for me.  Most of them include my dad and the little gifts that he would pick out for me on his own. Not that my mom’s gifts weren’t always just as amazing, but for a little girl, a gift from your dad that you know he picked out for you means something special. And, those memories have probably taken on the shiny qualities even more since he’s been gone.

But, the moment that came to mind immediately when I read through her prompt was not a gift I received for Christmas. It was something my mom brought home for me one day. A gift unattached to a holiday, birthday, or requirement.

I grew up in the age of Cabbage Patch Kids. The real ones with the yarn hair, adoption paperwork, and cute little autographed asses. The ones that parents waited hours in line for. They always smelled a certain way, and I loved them. Looking back, I don’t know if I loved them more because they were hard to get, but either way that particular toy was a significant part of my childhood. And, I was a lucky kid that had several Cabbage Patch Kids. I had a preemie doll and a set of twins. And, another one that I am not sure I remember (I still have them all in a tote in my garage).

But, one day, my mom came home from being out and about with Roger. Roger was a brown-haired Cabbage Patch Kid, and I don’t know why, but he was always my favorite. Like I said, there was no particular reason for her to get me the doll. She had been in a store, Sears I think, that had just received a shipment, and there wasn’t a line a mile long. I remember her describing it to me when I was older that there was a wall of them to choose from. But, at the time, I didn’t realize that.

At the time, I just knew I wasn’t asking for a new doll, and she didn’t feel like she had to get me a present for anything in particular. She just got him for me because she knew that I would love him, and I did. It was simple. The way gift giving should be and so rarely actually is. What an awesome thing to remember this time of year.

fourteen by fourteen

I am linking up to Devon on this one! Thanks for the kick in the rear.

1. What is your favorite book?  Why?

Tomcat in Love by Tim O’Brien without a doubt. The first chapter was originally published as a short story in the New Yorker, and I love everything about the way he plays with language in that book, particularly in the first chapter. It perfectly encompasses a passion I have about the significance of words in our lives and how one word can carry so much more with it. I am not really a rereader, but that’s one I go back to.

2. What song brings you back most viscerally to a moment in your history?  Where does it take you?

For me, it is more about particular bands related to the time that I was listening to them. And, the most jarring example would be Mumford and Sons. I listened to their first album heavily right after my youngest brother died, and hearing them on the radio or having them come up in my playlist takes me back to that painful time faster than anything. And, Dave Matthews “Stay or Leave” takes me back to when we were living in Oklahoma and thought Joe was going to have to go to Korea.

3. Who is your favorite character in fiction?

I am not sure about this one. I usually attach to the group of characters together and the way they make up a story. I was heartbroken when I finished the Harry Potter series because I knew that I was going to miss those “people.”

But, I think one of my favorites is actually Bill Bryson’s retelling of his childhood in Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. I love the way he obviously embellishes his memories of his childhood while still encapsulating the nuances we all share, like knowing your home better than anyone else because everything was on your level.

4. What is your favorite food?  What about foods you abhor?

I hate to admit it, but french fries. I love them in a way I shouldn’t. And, I really, really dislike olives and spinach.

5. Are you a morning or a night person?

My acupuncturist told me that starting around 11pm is prime liver function time, so it is wise to be in bed preparing for sleep by then. I don’t know if she was just trying to get me to go to bed at a reasonable hour, but it was a big deal for me to give myself a deadline of when I should go to bed.

The funny thing is that I am a really an awake when I am awake kind of person. Doesn’t take me long to get going. Although, my tiny human as an alarm clock does make that a little more difficult.

6. What is your default font when you write on your computer?

Calibri, but that is really more about ease than anything else. I really don’t like serif fonts. But, I have really been digging Myriad Pro lately too!

7. How many siblings do you have?  

3 younger brothers: 2 living (one’s in the Army and has an amazing wife who I love and one closer by who has my beautiful niece) and my youngest brother passed away about a year and a half ago. Losing him was easily one of the most painful things I have ever had happen to me.

8. What season do you like best?

I tend to like the transition times the best, so fall and spring are my favorites. Winter is a little too dreary, but I prefer it to the overwhelming heat of summer. I am not really built for the super hot.

9. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A teacher. I always tell people that as I got older, it was just the ages of the kids that changed.

10. If you practice yoga (even sporadically) what is your favorite pose?

I would actually really love to get into yoga, but haven’t ever done it. I did take a few classes of Tai Chi once, and I really loved it. I found it hugely calming and centering. It gave me something else to focus on than the list going in my brain.

11. When was the last time you cried?

I have been pretty emotional lately, so I always feel like I am on the verge. I think I am getting closer to the point where I need to give myself a little bit of a break cause I am having trouble catching my breath. But, things are also getting pretty exciting with work, and we are about to embark on a huge new project at home, so who knows.

12. When was the last time you laughed?

I make a point to try to laugh as much as I can. And, my husband, little man, family, and friends help with that.

13. What technology/device would you not want to live without?

I think I would have to say that my phone is the biggest one for me. I think I am a little too attached, actually.

14. Red, white, mixed drink or beer? What’s your go-to?

After trying to get pregnant for so long and then nursing for 14 months, I wasn’t drinking for a while, and I never really started enjoying anything with any regularity.  Although, we have been making what we are calling Maine Lemonade lately (lemonade and blueberry vodka), and it is pretty amazing!

{this and that} a few secret thoughts

:: Whenever I alphabetize things, I always think of higher letters in the alphabet as somehow superior.  I think this stems back to always being at the front of the line because my maiden name started with a “B.”  Now, I can’t help but think that as an “A,” I win.

:: Since the little man was born, I haven’t spent as much time seeking out new music.  It felt like a luxury, something I didn’t have time for anymore.  It took me two years to realize the flaw in that thinking.

I can’t sing.  I don’t play any instruments.  I can’t really dance with any precision or grace (or without alcohol in public).  But, music is often something I can literally feel wash over me.  There is something about the combination of words and unique succession of notes that feel like a hug to me, a big blanket that curls up around my shoulders and holds me up.  And, I seem to collect people that feel the same way about music that I do.

My proudest moment so far as a parent is that I am raising a son that feels this way.  Cade will often break out dancing in the beautiful awkward attempt at keeping with the music anytime he hears a song come on….television, radio, something I am playing for him…it doesn’t matter.  Sometimes he doesn’t even notice, and other times he will look at me with a huge smile.  I just love that about him.

So, I am going to give myself a “free pass” for  a while and collect songs that make me happy. Not focus on the money of it, but on the rest of it instead. Like this one by a new-to-me band, Fun.

:: There is a trend of marriages separating (both with impending permanent separations and because of deployments) that I am noticing with several of the blogs I am reading.  It makes my heart hurt for people that I have never met but feel like I know.  I feel like I am witnessing something private that I shouldn’t be able to see as I watch them try to find words to explain how their lives are inexplicably changing and still try to stay on track with the “purpose” of their space when I know that these situations must really be taking all of their focus right now.

I want to go give them all hugs.  And, it makes me pray for the continued strength of my marriage and to hope as hard as I can that we can keep my husband out of harm’s way again.

::  And, posts like this one are resonating particularly right now (thanks Melia) as I try to figure out what I need to do to make my body feel more like “home” and less like a “cheap rental.”  To remember that I too created a tiny human from scratch, feed him almost exclusively for a year, and have a husband who loves me for what I am, not just what I want to be.

{30-in-30ish} one post short….

Well, I am pretty proud of myself.  Today marks the last day of my 30-in-30 challenge, and I am just one post short.  Not bad considering the holidays/family visiting/weddings we have had going on around here.

November was a crazy month, and a post everyday is a hard thing to do.  I know that some days were better than other in terms of actual content, and I didn’t have a chance to show you all everything I had hoped to, but what I have had to keep reminding myself of is that this space isn’t going away.

I kept feeling rushed to get something posted to be within the 30 days, so I had to remind myself of why I started this challenge in the first place.  I just wanted to jump start my blogging again for a while.  I wanted to remember why it was important to me to begin with.  And, I think I achieved all that!

I also pulled out my camera way more in the last month than I have in a long time.  I started thinking more in terms of how I was going to save all these memories in a concrete way.  So, all in all, I think this last month has done exactly what it was supposed to!  And, I am looking forward to keeping with it!

my men

{30-in-30} i’m in love….

Shopping for clothes is not my favorite activity.  I am a “fluffy” girl, and I always really have been.  When I played soccer all the time in high school, I was able to do a better job of maintaining my weight, but I am definitely much heavier now than I was back then.  I continually want to go back to my “high-school-self” and smack her.  Tell her that she looked great.  Tell her that she should just enjoy herself and not try to hide in her clothes.  You know, exactly what every adult said to her.

I am not that girl anymore, however, so shopping isn’t quite as much fun now.  I still manage to pull together clothes I like, but I am picky.  I want things to look a certain way, and I try to pick pieces that will give me some longevity without being wickedly expensive.

But shoes, shoes always used to be my thing.  Even if I couldn’t find jeans I liked or tops that were long enough, I could usually find shoes that worked. And then, something happened.  I had a baby.  Now, my feet are much wider than they used to be.  And, working from home, I don’t have much of a reason to wear anything but flip flops.  That and I have worn Birkenstocks regularly for almost the last twenty years.  Needless to say, the bones in my feet are quite happy where they are, and they don’t like to squish into regular width shoes now.  And, finding cute shoes for wide feet isn’t easy.

But, my brother’s wedding is on Saturday, and I really wanted to find something cute to wear with pants (so I can chase after the little man).  I have a pair of Kenneth Cole Reaction Mary Janes that I love, but they weren’t quite as special as I wanted them to be for the occasion.

So, while I was at Nordstrom Rack trying to find something to wear, I found a pair of heels by Naya that were so comfortable I did a double-take.  I didn’t get them because they were definitely not right for the outfit I want to wear, but the brand fit so well that I made note and checked them out on Zappos when I got home…my usual go-to shoe people.

On Zappos, I found the Nayas brand and a few pair I liked,  and I also found a pair of Naturalizers that would work.  There was about a fifty dollar price difference between the two.  In addition, a few of the reviews said the Nayas that I wanted were a little homely in person.  So, unfortunately, my guilt kicked in, and I went ahead and ordered the Naturalizers.

They aren’t here yet, but today I went shopping with my mom.  Again on the hunt for something to wear Saturday (nevermind the fact that my best friend has been encouraging me to find something to wear for months…did I mention that I don’t like shopping for clothes), we went to the real Nordstroms.  And, not only did I find a super cute pair of pants that might work for the wedding and will definitely be a much needed boost to my wardrobe, but I had a chance to hold the Nayas I wanted.  To try to them on.  To walk around in them.  And, when I did, all the guilt about the money and the opinions in the reviews slide away.

They are by far the most amazing heels I have ever put on.  And, when I got home and read a little about the company, I am so happy with my decision!  And, I can’t say enough wonderful things about every single person I interacted with at Nordstroms.  I will definitely be back!

I am so excited that even if I can’t find something I love to wear, I will definitely have a great pair of shoes!

And now, for a too dark picture.

new shoes

And, a little something to show the details.

more details...

Aren’t they beautiful?